7 Year Tea Party Winners: Susan Craft's winner of her trilogy novels - The Chamomile, Laurel, and Cassia is: Lucy Reynolds, The winner of a copy of The Backcountry Brides is: Tammy Cordery, the winner of a silver quill charm is: Kathy Maher, Choice of one of three books by Carrie Fancett Pagels in paperback: Joy Ellis, A Bouquet of Brides Collection by Pegg Thomas winner is: Becky Smith, Janet Grunst's Selah-Award winning novel, A Heart Set Free, is: Sherry Moe.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Legacy: Colonial Images in Art

Ship carving figurehead.
Ship carver's shop, Mystic Seaport, CT
Photography is creative outlet for me, as is my writing. I love taking pictures of the people in my life. I also enjoy taking photographs while on my research trips, such as the images on this page which I took at some historical museums*. The visual aspect helps me to remember many of the things that I learn.

Before the advent of photography other arts had to serve the purpose of visual recording history. Of course there were crafts such as silversmiths, potters, furniture makers, etc. whose created objects have sometimes survived as a tribute to the lives and lively-hoods of their makers. In the 18th century America, the art of portraiture became a popular means of preservation, for those who had the means to afford them.

Ship's figurehead.
Mystic Seaport, CT
Sculptures are also found in centuries past in the founding days of our nation, though not in abundance. Images paying tribute to the legacy of an individual were created in wax and stone. The earliest portrait stone carvings were depicted on grave markers.

Yet, apart from ship's figurehead carvers, statues were the least cultivated among the arts in colonial times. The figureheads were said to identify a ship to the illiterate. Even those who are literate can quickly identify a likeness, and often attribute to that person words spoken to them.

Images are powerful, as are our words. Writing is another means of preserving a legacy through art. You will find many colonial era persons and personas memorialized in the writings of our Colonial American Christian Writers.

What did our colonial forebearers have to say about the value of writing?

Bust of George Washington.
Bates Memorial Museum, Hinkley, Maine
"If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb
and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter."
― George Washington

Bust of Benjamin Franklin.
Bates Memorial Museum, Hinkley, Maine

"Either write something worth reading or do
something worth writing."
― Benjamin Franklin

Bust of Thomas Jefferson.
Colonial Williamsburg, VA
"The most valuable of all talents is that of never
using two words when one will do."

"I cannot live without books."
―Thomas Jefferson

Statue of Abigail Adams
Location unknown  
“My pen is always freer than my tongue.”   
― Abigail Adams

If we had no way to preserve visual images and had to rely solely on crafting legacy through words, what would your writing say about you?

Sculpture in Early America

*All photographs, except of Abigail Adams, taken by Carla Gade.


  1. Busts are always so incredible. What a skill! And I guess I expect them to be the most 'life like' representation of how someone looked. I'm curious how many people disliked their portraits after they were painted. After all, to hire a painter (often the were traveling painters), one had to hope they were skilled if they were paid upfront! Or, would a very accurate portrayal of a person's looks bring about unhappy customers as well! (much like our current and common concerns about all those digital photos we find ourselves in - and not always happy with the results!)

    thanks Carla! Excellent post and a reminder of how much I want to travel to Mystic Seaport.

  2. Thank you, Deb. You have a good point about customer satisfaction. I wonder though if our generation is so vain and spoiled about our physical qualities that we are never satisfied. Perhaps the colonials didn't have as high expectations and were just awed by the close representation and appreciated the art. That is what I hope in my romantic mind. I do know that portraits were often painted ahead of time by those itinerant painters, without a face and hair and then customized to look like the subject. But also the skill and workmanship of past times was so outstanding, I think some arts are lost for the most part. The busts and other sculptures are incredible to behold. It does seem like you are looking at the true person.

    And, yes, you must go to Mystic!

  3. Nice post, Carla. I've taken painting classes over the years, and the most difficult was portrait painting. I so admire anyone who can capture the likeness of another person, not only their features but their personality.Once, I sculpted a foot out of clay and painted it to look like porcelain (it was part of a spoof). While sculpting it, I had the wierdest feeling as if the foot was inside the block of clay and I was simply pulling away the bits and pieces. Invigorating experience. Thanks again for the interesting post.

    1. That's funny, Susan. I have a visual of you doing that! LOL. It really is amazing that a human image can be captured through different mediums. Tribute to our Creator!

  4. Very interesting carla. Enjoyed seeing the bust. Thought George Washington's clothes looked funny. Sort of like some seen of pictures seen of men in farther ago than these, like some of the Roman's pictures. Wish I could see what the whole thing looked like. LOL The other two looked much more like ours. I love George Washing's saying. But, sounds too much like what is happening in America now.
    Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

    1. I agree about his clothing. It looks like the scupture "draped" him in a toga!

  5. I love all of these! Reminds me of the P&P movie version where Elizabeth is walking through all those statues and busts of Darcy's family. Oops...wrong time frame for this blog ;)

    Seriously, Carla, great article and photos! As to your question....wow. I'd have to think on that some. My personal journal writing might make me sound like a crazy woman :)


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